• Can you have a bacterial/viral infection without having a fever?

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    To answer your question: sure. Sometimes infections provoke no fever, even severe ones. The current definition of sepsis (a more severe infection) includes 4 signs, and temperature changes is only one. You only have to have 2 of the 4 and an infection to meet the definition of sepsis. But more importantly, the temperature one is that you have either a fever OR a low temperature.

    Common reasons for no temperature with infection include a mild, not systemically serious infection; advanced age; lower starting point (normal temperature below the average), fever suppressing medications from tylenol or ibuprofen to immunosuppressive medicines; serious infections which can cause low temperatures; some low pathogenicity infections (I recall a patient who had bacteria eating through his heart valves, going on long enough he lost weight and his diabetes improved from it–but no fever at all. It was enterococcus, which just doesn’t cause as acute a syndrome as many other bacteria).

    Beyond that, doctors shouldn’t just fire a bunch of antibiotics at swollen glands without a clue as to what’s happening. There are many causes of swollen glands, and randomly choosing an antibiotic isn’t going to fix lymphoma, or tuberculosis, or a viral infection, or run unusual bacterial infection.

    In a stable patient, diagnosis comes before treatment.

    Good question. Certainly, yes. We have two immune systems, the innate and the adaptive systems. The immune reaction to a new pathogen is characterized by inflammation, as the pathogen and the infected cells are destroyed by heat. That is the job of the very ancient innate system, and afterward, an antigen, or specific marker on a dead bug’s body is identified and it is memorized by the adaptive system, which makes an antibody (a cast or mold of that marker) that is carried by white blood plasma cells — in essence, antibody-producing factories. Specificity is one of the two properties that distinguish adaptive immunity from innate immunity. The other is called immunologic memory.

    These plasma cells produce a single type of antigen-specific lymphocyte, the antibody, at a rate of about 2,000 antibodies per second. The antibodies then circulate through the body fluids, attacking the triggering antigen.

    No fever is necessary. These guys grab and destroy any antigen-marked bug as they encounter them, and hopefully, before they can penetrate a cell membrane.

    I am revising my answer, 3 years later, to make the point that fever is a very expensive resolution for an infection, and seems only necessary where localized inflammation will not do the job. Because the infection has spread so far, it is more economical in energy terms to heat the whole body than to fight the infection by heating so many individual infection sites. I confess I do not know or have heard how the body makes this choice, but the immune system, IMO, is far more sophisticated than we think. I have always suspected that it has a memory for the exact temperature of fever it takes to destroy different pathogens, but I don’t know if there are any statistics that support this theory. (The energy needed to heat 50 Trillion cells, a degree or two higher, like 102F vs 104F is enormous.)


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    You most absolutely can!

    For example, A helicobacter pylori (causes stomach ulcers) infection is one.

    Fevers are actually caused by your own body recognizing that it is in trouble. This is usually caused by tissue damage, or your white blood cells getting ahold of dead bacteria (or its body parts).

    (1). Any disease where the pathogens can run around undetected, (2) Anytime your body’s immune system is dysfunctional e.g. AIDS; (3) And anytime the bacterial infection is very minor e.g. pimples

    Those are just the infections without fever that I can think of at the top of my head. I wouldn’t be suprised if there are other categories that I missed.

    And yes. if you didn’t know pimples are very often actually infections!

    Dr. Jenkins gives a very complete and accurate answer, better than I could have done. But I would add just one thing: it depends on how you define infection. Our bodies are amazing organisms and there are multitudes of things going on within them. One of these is that we are being invaded by microorganisms constantly and our bodies are efficiently and quietly dealing with them. It really is rather miraculous, when you come to think about it.

    I mention this because I have noticed a bit of an obsession with infection on Quora and I hope it’s clear that in almost every case your body can handle whatever the world throws at it. So… try not to worry about it. You will know if you have an infection worth worrying about because that’s another thing your body is great at doing: overreacting to infection so you get a clear warning that something is amiss. Relax. All is well. Your immune system’s got this.

    Yes, most pathogens can cause both symptomatic and asymptomatic disease in people. The ratio of asymptomatic to symptomatic infections can vary from disease to disease. Some individuals are also immune to diseases, such as the gastro intestinal viruses called Noroviruses that bind to the FUT2 receptor in the gastrointestinal mucosa. A portion of the population have a mutation in this receptor that prevents the virus from binding into the receptor and thus from infecting the cells, making those with this mutation immune to the disease.

    But not only is there a difference in how the pathogen affects individuals but also in how different individuals react to a disease. Elderly are less prone to high fevers, and may have infections despite showing no fever. If you are treated with cortisone or some other immunosuppressant for some reason, this may suppress some symtoms of the disease and so on.

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    Yes one can have infection with either microbe without having fever. This is called s a dormant state, where the people may also be called as careers such as in tuberculosis.

    This means the bacteria are present nd they are in continuous war with the immune agents of the body and hence are unable to grow beyond a threshold to cause fever, pain or illness symptoms.

    In such cases when a person in weal or immunocompromised, they attract an active disease which includes fever as the outcome. Some viruses such s HPV, EBV or others such s mouth flora is what people may harbour and may not show effects for long in many cases also years.

    Trust it will help.

    Infection is a pathology and Fever is a Symptom.

    A single pathology can manifest as several symptoms, of which one is fever. Some Infections manifest as rashes, some manifest as sore throat , some as inflammation(as in the case of your friend). Although, it is generally accepted that fever can point towards an underlying infection, the reverse is not true.

    Physicians arrive at a differential diagnosis after assessing the symptoms. Fever is not a diagnosis, but merely a symptom. The same is true for both viral and bacterial infections.

    Swollen lymph nodes which are painful to touch usually warrant an infectious pathology. Antibiotics are the first course of action. She should have follow up visits with her doctor till the swellings subside.

    Yep..u can hav..fever .. basic pathophysiology is hypothalamus( highest point of temperature regulation) has set body temp to higher point..fever is just an external manifestation of inflammatory processes occurring inside body..it can due to infection,drugs,tumor…most common cause being infection we give empirically antibiotics for fever thinking it is due to infection. Here u friend with lymph nodes in neck..most common cause for lymph node in neck is infection..we give empirically a course of antibiotics irrespective of fever present or not… if even after a course of antibiotics if swelling doesn’t subside then we do lymph node biopsy for its cause where in it can be due to tumor also…

    Yes you most certainly can have an infection that presents without a fever. A fever manifests when your immune cells release pryogens. A good example is macrophages releasing interleukin-4. This travels through the bloodstream and binds to the receptors in the hypothalamus. Once this happens the body temp rises (they also signal T cells). The purpose is to raise the body temp enough to make conditions unfavourable for the virus or bacteria. If a virus or bacteria doesn’t trigger this process for any reason, a fever will not occur.


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    Characteristically bacterial infections had a high spiking temperature (ex.=103, 104 or 107 F), but that is not as well known since the advent of antibiotics. Now the high temperatures (100 or 101 F) are considered to be certain viral infections as they are not well treated by antibiotics. It is possible to have a low grade chronic infection of either without a pronounced temperature elevation.

    Example: chronic infection of the appendix. Many appendix are removed with evidence of long standing infection and scarring.


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    The most common causes of swollen glands:

    • Bacterial infection such as strep throat or tonsillitis

    • Mouth sores or tooth infection

    • Viral infection such asmononucleosis or “mono”

    • Skin infection

    • Ear infection

    • Sexually transmitted disease

    • Cancers such as leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and breast cancer

    • Immune system disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and HIV infection

    • Side effect from a vaccine or from certain medications

    Contact doctor immediately if you have a side effect of:

    • High fever (over 104 degrees Fahrenheit)

    • Difficulty breathing

    • Difficulty swallowing

    • Night sweats

    • Weight loss

    • Skin overlying the swollen lymph node is red

    Mostly it will only be bacterial infection. Take the medicine for a week it will cured if not suggest doctor immediately.

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